More than 260 Red Cross volunteers in Milwaukee spent the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday helping others by going door-to-door through nine neighborhoods that have had high rates of home fires.
Together, they visited more than 8,000 homes, talking with residents about how to prevent fires and how to escape safely should a fire occur, and leaving door hangers with fire safety tips for those who were not at home.
Members of HOPE worldwide, the Milwaukee Fire Department and Sanford-Brown College joined the Red Cross for the King Day of Service, as did Keith Cruise, a former Cincinnati Bengals football player.
The fire safety program makes a difference. In Milwaukee’s 53206 zip code, home fires dropped from 80 in 2009 to 33 in 2011. In zip code 53212 fires fell from 57 to 18 during those years.
“The difference to be made here is for the benefit of other people,” said Randy Jordan, HOPE worldwide president and CEO, who also canvassed door-to-door the entire day. “These families will be able to share another birthday, celebrate another Thanksgiving, open presents on another Christmas Day because of our efforts.”
Gerald Washington, assistant fire chief and local Red Cross board member, along with 30 Milwaukee firefighters, joined the volunteers and installed smoke alarms when no functioning alarm was present in a home.
On a block close to the fire station, not a single home had a working smoke detector. Residents told firefighters they didn’t feel they needed an alarm because they lived so close to the firehouse. When installing an alarm in one home, a firefighter removed a lawnmower and other flammable items stored next to the furnace.
“What we do today will always impact tomorrow,” said Cruise.
Similar volunteer activities took place this holiday, from Milwaukee to New Orleans, and from New York to Los Angeles, as Red Cross volunteers answered The
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s call to service by teaching others about fire safety.
Fire is the biggest disaster threat to American families—not floods, hurricanes or tornadoes. On average, the American Red Cross provides food, shelter, comfort and hope to people affected by approximately 63,000 fires every year, or about one fire every eight minutes. For fire safety information, visit the Help Prevent Home Fires pages of www.RedCross.org.